Computer Graphics World

July / August 2016

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hen visual effects artists and animators create a CG character, particularly a humanoid character, they oen note the quiet performances by the character, the tender moments, as the most difficult to achieve. The moments when a character's face needs to show emotion, not simply repeat lines. When the character is most human. Meet BFG, the big friendly giant in the epony- mous movie. Created at Weta Digital based on actor Mark Rylance's performance and voice, the CG character has the face of a thousand stories. "Mark Rylance can say a thousand things before he opens his mouth," says Guy Williams, visual effects supervisor at Weta Digital for The BFG. Weta Digital's Joe Letteri was the senior visual effects supervisor, and Jamie Beard was the animation supervisor. Steven Spielberg directed the fantasy-adven- ture film, which tells a kinder story of an orphan girl kidnapped by a lonely, elderly giant than the original Roald Dahl children's book. The late Melissa Mathison, who wrote Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, provided the screenplay for the Walt Disney Pictures release. It seems odd to conflate "subtle" and "giant," but this is what Spielberg, Rylance, and the Weta Digital crew have achieved, making possible the all-im- portant connection between BFG and the child Sophie (Ruby Barnhill). In the film, BFG, a runt among giants, is an outcast who collects dreams and eats vegetables. He kid- naps Sophie aer she spies him blowing dreams into a window, and then isn't sure what to do. The other nine giants in the alternate universe that's "Giant Country" know: They want to eat her. To defeat these child-hungry giants, Sophie and BFG devise a plot that involves the Queen of England, Bucking- ham Palace, and some farting of green smoke. Weta Digital was the sole visual effects house on the show, creating digital environments and effects in addition to characters, as they had for Spiel- berg's animated feature The Adventures of Tintin MARK RYLANCE'S NUANCED PERFORMANCE PROVIDED ANIMATORS WITH UNIQUE, FASCINATING CHALLENGES. DOTS ON HIS FACE CAPTURED SKIN MOVEMENT, BUT BFG'S SUBTLE EXPRESSIONS REQUIRED CAREFUL FINE-TUNING BY ANIMATORS.

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